Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Writer's Brain

Air. Food. Water. Sex. A notebook, pen, pencil or word processor. All are fundamentals of (my) existence. If I don't have a pen or paper on hand, my brain gets bogged down with words and I get lost staring out windows while writing stories in my mind.

And it never really stops. At two in the morning, when sleep won't come - I'll lay awake thinking of a character - what does she look like when she's bending down to put on her shoes. Do the cuffs of her pants rest on the tops of her shoes, or is she wearing a skirt, and if so, nylons? If so, do they crinkle at the creases of the bend at her knee, or do they sag at her bony ankles? Why is she putting shoes on? What's the weather like? Who is she going out with? This will continue until my brain finally exhausts itself and I'll wake up the next day with only shadowy recollections of the 'writing' that my mind worked on in the early hours of the morning. It's almost like a disease -writer's brain

There are situations and places that trigger an extraordinary amount of writers-brain activity...cafes, for example. Or walks or car rides. Yesterday, on a brief ride to the gym, I found myself studying the edges of the road where the pavement met the snow and imagining fictional characters lugging fictional sacks on their backs, wearing shiny wet black boots and trudging along the roads edge - their breath misting ahead of them then vanishing. The ride was over too quickly for the characters to have faces or names or purposes for their journey - but the descriptions were vivid and lush and I was left kicking myself for not bringing a notebook with me to scratch down my thoughts. (But what normal person brings a notebook to the gym?)

You seem down, are you ok? The silence was worrying my mother, who was driving - she meant well, but her question only aggravated me. Can's she see that I'm working? I forget sometimes that not everyone has a non-stop world of adjectives and plot twists spinning in his or her thoughts.

When I write, I don't sit down with tidy little plans to carefully construct a story. Most days, when I find a moment to attack the blank page, it's more like purging. I spill every description, occasion, setting, phrase out of my head - everything splatters onto a blank word document and then I hope to God that I can clean up the mess.

Thus, the bits and pieces of random characters and stories that I have lying about on my desktop - disembodied and waiting for me to write down their next action, expression, thought...

Unfortunately lately, there has been a whole lot of time for messes - but very little time for the clean up



alas... these things must come to pass... your first novel always fails... if not, you die young...

Blogger Chris said...

Writer's Brain -- I like that. For me it's people more than places; you catch a glimpse of someone crying at a stoplight, or of an unexpected smile at a bus stop. Maybe a charming entry stumbled across in a fit of day-job-boredom-induced "next blog" button-pushing.

I think you're right about walks kicking Writer's Brain into high gear, and I think that Writer's Brain induces scowling, because my wife is always asking me what's wrong when all I'm trying to do is to hold on to a thought long enough to get home and get it down.

Blogger Mella said...

Oh, people get me too - especially while riding on public transport. I find myself studying everything from their shoes to the state of their mind rolls over possible ways of describing them and wonders where they're headed and why...

Blogger Valkyrie said...

Wow, what beautiful evocative writing. Thanks for sharing!

I hope you don't mind a perfect stranger like me reading.

Blogger AMG said...

WOW, thanks your beautiful Please keep sharing. AMG

Blogger mreddie said...

More than writer's brain, I think I have writer's cramp of the brain, at least on a given day.

Any time I leave the house, except for very short trips, I take a note pad or a small audio recorder, or both. I never know when silliness will hit me and I certainly want to transcribe it. :)

Good post, I can relate. ec

Blogger JunieRose2005 said...

I am so glad I found your blog!

...and what you say is true for me too- except that my writings often come to me in poems.

(my 2nd. attempt at a post here- so if you get 2- well, just consider yourself twice blessed from Junie today! :) )


Blogger Susanna Rose said...

I love how you mention that sex is on your list so matter a factly!(= Also, I too kind of like to attack the page but do so with a lot less comfort, talent and grace! I like to read about what you do cause I try to learn from those more seasoned writers...thanks!

Blogger TravelingMermaid said...

When I wake up in the night and my brain starts whirling, it seems I think my best thoughts. I think the state between sleep & consciousness
is a very creative time. Alas, when I wake the next morning it has all faded away.
I really enjoy your blog, Mella.

Blogger LDahl said...

I always enjoy reading what you have noticed. Hope you are having a lovely day.

Blogger Zen Wizard said...

I would take the notebook to the gym next time, if that is where you get inspired.

Just tell everyone you want to write down how many "reps" you do or something, then REALLY write down the inspirations!

Blogger Gary Freedman said...

Air. Food. Water. A notebook, pen, pencil or word processor and a computer are my requisites for life. I'm an asexual celibate, and can live without sex.

Blogger Melissa said...

After almost twelve years of marriage, my husband is just now understanding that when I'm quiet and withdrawn, I'm not mad, there are characters talking in my head.
For me, it's always the dialogue that comes first.

Hope you find time for the mess.... I so enjoy reading what comes out of them.

Did you find time to do some baking? hehe. I'm glad I can inspire in some small way from down here. :)

Meanwhile... time to be inspired by some people watching.

Blogger Neo said...

Mella -Nice post. I know the feeling. I'm not as character oriented as you are, but I share the pain of someone distracting you while you're working.

It really is a distraction.

Btw, I like that pict.

Keep it going girl!


Blogger LJ said...

I think we all know that process, Mella.
I particularly related to the discussion of how people don't understand you're working when you're staring out that window, or just get extraordinarily quiet.
I figure about 75% of writing looks like we are staring at our shoes - Or scribbling items on a shopping list.
Enjoyed the piece.

Blogger david C said...

I find certain things inspire me to write.. It seems though that we run out of time each day to get those thoughts down on the computer (remember when we said down on paper). .
Our work load lightens a bit after the holidays, but at that point we will be travelling and not thinking about writing at all... Where to find the time.

Blogger mrdes said...

I enjoy your writings...and i feel exactly the same, at times, it is a place, a moment to describe, at other, it is feeling,a thought that forms mysteriously in your brain proving too compelling not to pen down.

Blogger kim said...

The car! (I can write and drive.)

Very nice post.

Long live the inner narrator.

Blogger Tracy said...

I can relate to your blog completely. It's true that people around me do not get it when I am attacked by writer's brain. And I get so frustrated when my best ideas has come and passed in the brief moment before I drift off to sleep. In the morning most of the magic is gone and all that's left are words without much soul.I would so wish that writer's could capture every fleeting thought and idea that they get. Most of the best thoughts are lost before we can capture it- sad but true.

Blogger Andy said...

Well written piece. I was drawn to your blog since its title reminded me of a Springsteen track, Empty Sky. All in all, keep the vivid words flowing and fluid thoughts brimming.

Blogger Sinical said...

I just happened across your blog and I have to say it's such a releif to know I'm not the only one with, what I've coined as Writer's Bulemia. It's a delicate condition, really, resulting in the purging of thoughts and ideas about characers that may or may not exist. The most mundane things can trigger a bout of said bulemia and next thing I know I'm scrawling on a near by napkin with eyeliner. I always thought I was just nuts, maybe I am a little.

Blogger Mella said...

Sinical ~ So good to know that we're not alone in our insanity, isn't it? Napkin's and eyeliner...excellent idea in a pinch.

Blogger Lauri said...

I just came across your blog, and admire your honesty, your way of looking the world. Keep those little scribbles, keep those messes of words, some day you will have more time for developing them, and be glad of all these starts and jumps you wrote down.

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